We need a citizens' petition on debt deal
But I held off doing anything about it in the hope that, as we were repeatedly assured, a good deal was just around the corner. It is now clear there will be no good deal – unless Irish people collectively say the only thing that matters: that we refuse to beggar ourselves and our children to pay off the debts incurred by reckless private borrowers and equally reckless European institutional lenders.
Within the next few days a website, ourcountry.ie, will go live. It is not sponsored by or connected to any political party or organisation – it has been put together by volunteers. It is properly designed so that only verified individuals who declare themselves as Irish citizens can register their signatures to the petition.
That petition reads as follows: “As citizens of Ireland, we believe that the payment of €3.1 billion a year, every year until 2023, for Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide is reckless, immoral and unjust. These ‘promissory notes’ have imposed the debts of now-defunct private institutions on Irish citizens as a whole. These are debts which we cannot, should not and will not pay.
“We therefore instruct our Government: (a) to declare by March 17th, 2013, that it will not make the payment of €3.1 billion due on March 31st, 2013, and to inform the European Central Bank that it will no longer co-operate with this unjust imposition of private debts on the Irish people.
“(b) not to enter into any arrangement with the European Central Bank that involves any acceptance of a duty to pay these debts and/or any substantial payment of Irish public money on foot of the promissory notes.
“We further declare that unless the Government makes this declaration by March 17th, 2013, we will engage in peaceful and dignified mass protest in a form to be decided by ourselves collectively.”
Initial news on the petition will be available on Twitter at @ibrcpetition.
What is to be hoped for from this petition? Obviously that hundreds of thousands of citizens put their names to it, allowing the Government to say to the ECB: “Look at the pressure we’re under on this. Our citizens just won’t take it.”
But also that the website becomes, over time, a place where Irish people collectively take responsibility for their country and find the courage to fight for its survival. It could be one way of making citizens visible to each other and of realising they are not alone. We have nothing to lose but our comforting sense of powerlessness.